The book is narrated by protagonist Neil Strauss with emphasis on the personal transformation he undergoes to become an "influential member of the seduction community". The dominant theme throughout the book is the doctrine of "the Venusian Arts" as taught to Neil by the Community. Although several wide-ranging beliefs and ideals for the perfect seducer are presented, Strauss takes after Mystery and his Mystery Method, providing what could be considered a literary endorsement for him.
Strauss meets the Community
By chance Strauss is asked to write a news article on a popular online document called the Layguide. Immediately after reading the book, Neil is stunned and searches eagerly for more information on the study of male-to-female seduction. Spending months absorbing the lingo and literature online, he discovers a course offered in Los Angeles by instructor 'Mystery'.
Mystery, a tall charismatic magician, is the most respected in the Community for his tried techniques (termed the Mystery Method), which he posts online. Through popular demand on the Internet, he begins travelling workshops to personally coach men who struggle to attract women. At his first class, he teaches Neil and two other students an entirely new approach to women; they adopt canned lines, ways to dress, and develop more confident, sociable personalities. Strauss adopts the nickname Style.
Strauss learns, in his interaction with Mystery, to actively show disinterest in a female while revealing her attraction. Postponing male-to-female interest, he learns, allows the pickup artist to reverse normally-accepted gender roles in social interaction.
The christening of "Style"
Neil quickly becomes a good friend of Mystery's and accompanies him during workshops. Under Mystery's advice, Neil renames himself Style, a pseudonym symbolic of his induction as a pick-up artist; in addition, he received orders to shave his hair and have corrective eye surgery. Style complies, but formulates a less than wholesome view of Mystery.
As they pursue Slavic women in the Balkans, Mystery becomes irritable. A lack of attention made him frustrated, causing a fit in the car. Sobbing hysterically, Mystery reveals that his father was both verbally and physically abusive. This, teamed with emotional distance from his mother, he claims, left him love-starved and unfulfilled as a child.
Style abhors Mystery's cries for attention and takes time to investigate the plethora of techniques and methods available from other gurus. He meets with David DeAngelo, Ross Jeffries, and many notables throughout the book, incorporating their ideas selectively into what he does.
Style joins the Community as a full-fledged member, working with Mystery's company, the Mystery Method. He teaches workshops and becomes a proficient pickup practitioner. He feels enlightened and content as a pickup artist. At the same time, Mystery has a depressive episode and requires hospitalization.
As the new leader, Style watches the Community expand rapidly from the Internet and word-of-mouth at college campuses. He is inspired by an interview with Tom Cruise, convinced that the Mystery Method, like Scientology, could become a Hollywood hit. Style launches Project Hollywood, a cult-like subculture in Hollywood, California. With the rehabilitated Mystery, he and the group rent a mansion there and gain fame dating the hottest celebrities in the city.